The wife of a successful African-American businessman in Georgia is shoring up support for her husband. He is serving a life sentence for killing a trespasser who was on his property with the intent to commit a crime. She has vowed to fight for her husband, John McNeil’s release. Anita McNeil, 46 (pictured second from left), said the following quote to the news media:
“It is hard to think he got convicted. You expect the law to be on the side of the person defending themselves and not the aggressor.”
Following an initial investigation, Kennesaw, Ga., detectives concluded in 2005 that John McNeil, 45, acted in self-defense.
The case began on December 6, 2005, when McNeil received a distress call from his teenage son that a strange man was lurking around in their backyard. John immediately called 911 and told the police he was headed home. According to testimony, the man, Brian Epp, was a hired contractor that John McNeil had past disagreements with. In a previous incident, Epp pulled out a knife on McNeil’s 19-year-old son.
When McNeil returned home, Epp, who is white, refused to leave, despite being asked to do so several times. McNeil and an eye-witnesses testified that he fired a warning shot. Epp then charged towards him with his hand in his pocket and McNeil he shot him in self-defense.
As stated earlier in this article, Kennesaw Georgia police detectives finished their investigation and concluded that McNeil did not commit a crime. However, Cobb County District Attorney Pat Head decided almost a year later to charge him with murder. After a trial, McNeil was sentenced to life in prison in November 2006.
Georgia’s “Castle Doctrine” permits people to defend themselves with a weapon if they feel threatened on their own property without having to wait for the situation to escalate.
The case has caused activists to rally to Hohn McNeil’s aid. Why would a family man with no criminal background be sentenced to life in prison for protecting his loved ones and property?
The NAACP is calling for a reexamination of the case, which they see as a serious case of injustice. NAACP President Benjamin Jealous quoted the following to statement to the media:
“The events of this case can only be described as tragic. But that tragedy has been compounded by Georgia’s decision to prosecute and convict a dedicated father for protecting his family and himself on his own property.”
Earlier this year, John McNeil filed a writ for Habeas Corpus relief on the grounds that his conviction was unsound. His petition is stil pending before the Baldwin County, Georgia Superior Court.
Anita McNeil is working ardently with her husband’s attorneys to find justice for her wrongfully incarcerated husband. She is living with advanced stage cancer and is trying to stay strong in the fight to keep her family together for her husband’s sake. BlackBlueDog.com will be following the ongoing details of this case.